PLACES TO VISIT

Η εκκλησία του Αγίου Μηνά στο Ηλιοχώρι 2002
The Church of Aghios Minas If you love nature and fresh air, you shouldn't miss a nice walk on the road that brings you to Ioannina. A few meters outside of Iliochori you will find the little church of Aghios Minas. The entrance of the church was replaced with a new one in the summer of 2009, by the countryman Georgios Polimeris. In this church the first days of August, Iliochorites celebrate the mass for Aghios Sotirios. Countrymen from all over Greece returned to Iliochori to participate in the mass. As you enter Iliochori there are many road signs for tourists that indicate the driving distance to visit the village and the surrounding territory.

Anyone who loves touristic tours can follow the appropriate road signs placed on the side of the road. Inside of the village you can find the new main square which accommodates a building that used to be an elementary school that now has become the town hall offices. Click on the images in order to enlarge them.

Πλατεία στον στο Ηλιοχώρι 2002
Πλατεία στον στο Ηλιοχώρι 2002
Το σχολείο στο Ηλιοχώρι 2002
Το σχολείο στο Ηλιοχώρι 2002
Παλιό σπίτι στο χωριό Ηλιοχώρι
Το σχολείο στο Ηλιοχώρι 2009

Following the way down the village, you arrive at Mesochori which means ''Center of the Village''. This was the old main square that extended up to Sochora. In this public square there is the famous plane-tree, one of the largest tree species of Greece.

The Plane-Tree (Aghios Nikolaos):
The plane tree is one of the most important naturalistic beauties, with a perimeter of 10.5 m, between the largest of Greece. Many tourists who have visited this plane tree have been astonished by its beauty. Some say that for 600 years it has been used for a meeting place after the mass. Currently, it is also a place for many festivities for the countrymen, where they meet to eat lunch that usually consists of meat and fish, in order to continue with the traditional dances of the place. The place is also suitable for childrensince there is a small park where they can play.For those who love outdoor sports there is also a small basketball court.

Άποψη του Μεσοχώρι στο Ηλιοχώρι 2009
Άποψη του Μεσοχώρι στο Ηλιοχώρι 2009
Η βρύση στην πλατεία Μεσοχώρι στο Ηλιοχώρι 2009
Ο πλάτανος στο Ηλιοχώρι 2009
Η εκκλησία του Αγίου Νικολάου 2002
Η εκκλησία του Αγίου Νικολάου 2002
Η εκκλησία του Αγίου Νικολάου στο Ηλιοχώρι 2002
The Church of Aghios Nikolaos:
Besides the square you can find the church of Aghios Nikolaos, constructed in 1850, one of the biggest churches in Zagori. It has a wide courtyard where the countrymen relax after the celebrations, to exchange wishes and news of relatives. Inside the church, there is the altar in the center with chairs on the sides in rows, facing the altar. On the walls, there are precious icons and byzantine frescos of hagiography objects. The roof has been recently completely re-made, using big plates of slate that come from the distant Kavala. Continuing, after the big plane tree you can find the stone bridge of Peccios. If you keep going you can find the Church of Aghios Athanasios.

The Bridge of Peccios:
This stone bridge probably comes from the period is the Ottoman empire and has become atourist attraction.Similarly, to the majority of the bridges of the region, the bridge of Peccios was constructed using donations from the Epirotes. A large sum was donated by its benefactor, giving the bridge its name. More specifically, the expenses for its construction were covered by the family of Antonios Peccios. Following the 1967 earthquake, the little bridge suffered serious damages but was later restored. In the summer of 2005 intensive activities of maintenance started to put the bridge in safety. There is no information on its constructors.

Η εκκλησία του Αγίου Αθανασίου στο Ηλιοχώρι 2009
The Church of Aghios Athanasios
The church of Aghios Athanasios is found approximately 500 m from the village, along the path that brings you to Laista. According to some testimonies, the church was constructed around the 1770 by the monk called Blasio, as a prayer placeCurrently, the state of the temple is not at its best due to its history of being used as a refuge by Albanians who, following the downfall of the Hoxha government, arrived secretly in Epirus. They caused damage to the temple by setting fires and vandalizing icons. Despite this, tourists do visit the temple, often directed there while on their way to the Balta Stringa waterfall. Following the path to the right side, close to the Kriopotamos river, you can visit the ruins of the old flour mill of water. A bit ahead you can find the great waterfalls called Balta Stringa.

The Waterfalls of Balta Stringa:
The waterfall is 20 minutes on foot from Iliochori, from the beginning of the village. The waterfall is found at 780 m from sea level and is formed from tree waterfalls. The largest is at a height of 25 meters with a majestic swimming pool on its base. In October of 2009, the television channel SKY, shot a documentary on the natural beauty of Iliochori.

καταρράκτης της Μπάλτα Ντι Στρίγκα στο ηλιοχωρι
The Church of Prophet Elia:
In the vicinity of the Church of Aghios Nikolaos, there is a rural path that leads, after 2 kilometers, to the little hill, on top of which there is a little church dedicated to the Prophet Elia.
Η εκκλησία του Προφήτη Ηλία στο Ηλιοχώρι 2002
Η εκκλησία του Προφήτη Ηλία στο Ηλιοχώρι 2002
Άποψη του χωριού Ηλιοχώρι από την εκκλησία του προφήτη Ηλία
Η εκκλησία της Παναγίας στο Ηλιοχώρι 2009
The Church of Panagia:
Not far from the central square of Iliochori is the church of Panagia, about 10 minutes from the village It was built in 1350 by Cretan monks. It was one of the most valuable churches before the Turks robbed it after killing AliPasha. In this church you can admire the ancient icons, the old altar and carved wooden furnishings. Opposite the church is a small, covered porch which also has a big bell with a Venetian Latin inscription. Near the church were discovered two well-preserved catacombs where the monks of the ancient monastery hid themselves during the Ottoman period, to escape the Turks.

In 1822, the soldiers of the Ottoman Sultan, having murdered Ali Pasha in the island of the lake Pamvotis islandof Ioannina,took possession of many monastery works in the region of Zagoria. The church of Panagia (dedicated to Virgin Mary) was found victim of robbers who did noy spare the monks, believing that they were hiding money in the temple. Adjacent to the church was the cemetery which in the twentieth century moved next to the church of Agios Nikolaos, due to the depopulation of the village. In 1943, it suffered greatly under the ruthless occupation of Nazi soldiers who spared no one. The Epirotean Costas Krystallis, contributed articles to a newspaper during that year, documenting the plight of the villages in Pindos and emphasizing the church of Panagia of Iliochori as a valuable source of historical information.

The River Rascianitis:
An interesting sight is the Rascianitis River, flowing downstream through the valley from the village and serving as a tributary to the great Aoos River, offering a great spot for fishing. Moreover, the location is an ideal destination for hiking or biking in one of the most picturesque and healthy landscapes. The road leading from Iliochori to Vrisochori extends further to Palioseli, a small village situated along the way, and crosses over the Aoos River through a sturdy bridge constructed a few years ago to replace the old one, which was carried away by winter floods. This road continues onward to the city of Konitsa, connecting to the Ioannina - Thessaloniki route.

Ο ποταμός Ρασενίτης στο Ηλιοχώρι 2009
Gyftocambos In the area of Gyftocambos every year on the first weekend of August, the descendants of the ancient tribe of Sarachatsani, known for their excellent breeding skills, gather for a grand festivity that commences on Friday afternoon. People come from all over Greece and other Balkan nations such as Romania and Bulgaria. Upon their arrival, they set up tents and light large bonfires both for preparing roasts and to keep warm, as the temperature drops during the night. On Saturday afternoon, a massive bonfire is ignited at the centre of the public paved square, around which people will dance until Sunday afternoon.
Γυφτόκαμπος 2002
Γυφτόκαμπος 2002
Γυφτόκαμπος 2002
Γυφτόκαμπος 2002
Γυφτόκαμπος 2002
Γυφτόκαμπος 2002

In Gyftocambos, the festivities include lively dances accompanied by an orchestra consisting of mandolin, clarinet, tambourine, and various soloists. People enjoy drinking, eating, and dancing throughout the celebration. On Sunday morning, professional dancers dressed in typical Epirus costumes take the stage and perform. The celebrations continue until the afternoon when attendees start dismantling their tents and head back to their homes. This communal event holds great significance, reminiscent of the times when flocks would move from the coasts to the lush green mountains of Epirus at the beginning of spring. The shepherds used to bring not only the flocks but also their families along, and some of them eventually settled in these mountain villages. From the village of Iliochori, you can admire the majestic Papingos mountain, where the den of the infamous bandit "Davelis" was once situated. Historians believe he spent a year in this den during the period when Epirus was under Turkish rule. Papingo is also a destination for Tsai pickers, who come to collect a variety of tea.

 

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